Top 10 Dirty Heads Songs

Dirty Heads songs

Feature Photo: Sterling Munksgard /

Our top 10 Dirty Heads songs list introduces us to an American band renowned for its unique blend of reggae-rock music. Founded in 2006 by Jared Watson and vocalist Dustin Bushnell in Orange County, California—a region noted for its reggae/ska scene—the duo first connected at a high school party. Jared was immediately impressed by Dustin’s rap demo tapes. While Jared had no musical background, Dustin was already making waves in a well-known rock band. They soon teamed up, blending hip-hop with punk and reggae influences to craft their distinctive sound.

Before solidifying their lineup, Jared and Dustin performed alongside Dustin’s brother Jake Bushnell in his band, HB Surround Sound. In 2007, under the name “Dirty Heads,” which was inspired by a nickname given by older family members, they recorded their demo Dirty Demo. Jared Watson has mentioned that the band’s music is influenced by Sublime’s reggae-rock vibes and The Black Keys’ warm, emotive sounds.

The band achieved success with their debut album Any Port in a Storm in 2008, which featured some of their best songs. Initially, Dirty Heads consisted of co-lead vocalist Jared Watson, co-lead vocalist and guitarist Dustin Bushnell, drummer and percussionist Jon Olazabal, and bassist David Foral. Over the years, the lineup has expanded to include additional instrumentalists, enriching their sound. Here are the top 10 Dirty Heads songs, drawn from the band’s eight studio albums.

# 10 – Lay Me Down

Leading off our top 10 Dirty Heads songs is the track “Lay Me Down,” a standout single from the band’s debut album Any Port in a Storm. The track features Rome Ramirez, the guitarist from Sublime with Rome, who co-wrote the song with Dustin Bushnell and Jared Watson. Initially, “Lay Me Down” was intended for inclusion on the follow-up album to Any Port in a Storm. However, the band’s record company saw the potential for the song to make an immediate impact and insisted on its inclusion in the debut album. This decision proved prescient as “Lay Me Down” became the band’s first number one hit on the US Alternative Songs Chart. The song’s remarkable ten-week run at number one set a new record, surpassing Everlast’s “What It’s Like,” and solidified its place in alternative music history.

# 9 – Spread Too Thin

“Spread Too Thin” is a standout track from Dirty Heads’ Cabin by the Sea album. The song showcases the collaborative songwriting efforts of Dustin Bushnell and Jared Watson from Dirty Heads, along with Rome Ramirez. The title “Spread Too Thin” is an idiomatic expression that aptly captures the essence of the song’s lyrics, which delve into the overwhelming feeling of juggling too many activities at once. The narrator reflects on being so consumed with tasks that others begin to question what’s happening in his life, highlighting the common struggle of finding balance amidst life’s demands. This track resonates with overextended listeners, making it one of the band’s most relatable and appreciated releases.

# 8 – My Sweet Summer

“My Sweet Summer” is a standout track featured on Dirty Heads’ album Sound of Change. The song owes much of its success to the collaboration between Sublime with Rome’s guitarist Rome Ramirez, Dustin Bushnell, Jared Watson, and producer Niles Hollowell-Dhar. The track exemplifies a seamless blend of styles, showcasing the exquisite vocals of Dustin and Jared. True to the album’s title, Sound of Change, the song infuses hip-hop elements that nod to Dustin and Jared’s musical roots, enriching the band’s signature reggae-rock sound with a contemporary twist. “My Sweet Summer” captures the essence of seasonal transition and is celebrated for its ability to bring fresh dynamics to the band’s evolving sound.

# 7 – Oxygen

“Oxygen” was a highly anticipated single from Dirty Heads’ self-titled album. The track was crafted by Jared Watson, Dustin Bushnell, Nick Bailey, and Ryan Ogren, and stands out as one of Jared’s personal favorites. He has praised the song for its compelling lyrics and enchanting melodies. True to his words, “Oxygen” encapsulates the quintessential reggae-rock essence that Dirty Heads are known for, serving as a perfect introduction to the vibe and tone of the rest of the album. This intoxicating song not only highlights the band’s lyrical creativity but also sets a vibrant, energetic pace for their eponymous album, showcasing their ability to blend and innovate within their genre.

# 6 – Burn Slow (ft. Tech N9ne)

“Burn Slow” marks a return to Dirty Heads’ hip-hop roots with an upbeat and spirited tune. Featured on the band’s album Sounds of Change, this track exemplifies the album’s theme of musical evolution. There was no better way to underscore the theme of sound transformation and the incorporation of hip-hop elements than by featuring rapper Tech N9ne in the third verse. Tech N9ne adds a dynamic flair to the song with his rapid yet precise rapping skills, enhancing the track’s energy. With the release of standout tracks like “Burn Slow,” Sounds of Change achieved significant success, reaching number one on both the US Top Alternative Albums and Independent Albums Charts, showcasing the band’s broad appeal and ability to evolve artistically.

# 5 – Dance All Night (ft. Matisyahu)

Dirty Heads collaborated with reggae artist Matisyahu to create the grooving ballad “Dance All Night,” featured on the band’s 2012 album Cabin by the Sea. The song was penned by members of Dirty Heads, who invited Matisyahu to add his distinctive flair. Matisyahu was already familiar with Dirty Heads, having toured with them alongside 311 and Sublime. His involvement brought a unique reggae touch that perfectly complemented the band’s style. “Dance All Night” played a significant role in building upon the success that Dirty Heads experienced with their debut album, Any Port in a Storm, helping to solidify their reputation in the reggae-rock genre and attract a broader audience.

#4 – That’s All I Need

When Dirty Heads crafted the intro for “That’s All I Need,” they immediately recognized its potential to resonate deeply with their audience. Featured on the band’s self-titled album, this song marked a return to their original reggae rock vibes, moving away from the experimental sounds explored in Sounds of Change. “That’s All I Need” was co-written by Dirty Heads and Justin Gray, who also helped produce the track. Released in May 2016, the song quickly gained traction, receiving immediate airplay across numerous radio stations. Its catchy rhythm and quintessential reggae influence encapsulate the essence of Dirty Heads, capturing the spirit that fans have come to love.

# 3 – Stand Tall

“Stand Tall” is a standout track from Dirty Heads’ second studio album, released in 2008. The song was a collaborative effort in lyric composition, involving band members along with Steve Fox and Stan Frazier. Thematically, “Stand Tall” is about steeling oneself against life’s monumental challenges. It delivers a powerful message of resilience and strength, encouraging listeners to stand firm and not let anyone bring them down. This track resonates deeply as a motivational anthem, making it an essential inclusion in our top 10 Dirty Heads songs list. It serves as a reminder that things get a little better when we face our difficulties with determination. Indeed, a list like this would feel incomplete without a song that offers encouragement on those tough days we all encounter.

# 2 – Cabin by the Sea

“Cabin by the Sea” is the titular ballad from Dirty Heads’ 2012 album of the same name. Written by the band, this rhythmic song paints a picture of a peaceful seaside retreat where everyone is welcome and negativity is left behind. The track is beautifully enhanced by the use of acoustic guitars, percussion, and woodwind instruments, which lend an added layer of serenity to the song’s inviting message. “Cabin by the Sea” enjoyed significant airplay on radio stations, contributing to its success and helping Dirty Heads to expand their fanbase even further. The song’s soothing melody and uplifting lyrics have made it a favorite among fans, capturing the essence of the idyllic escape it describes.

# 1 – Vacation

Number one on our top 10 Dirty Heads songs is the hit “Vacation” from the band’s 2017 album Swim Team. The song is built around the idea that if you love your job, it hardly feels like work, thereby inspiring people to live their lives as if they are on vacation. This concept might serve as a wake-up call for those who are not passionate about their current jobs, encouraging them to pursue their true interests. Jared Watson revealed that the inspiration for “Vacation” struck while he was walking his dogs, reflecting on the fulfilling life he has achieved with the band. He also shared that overcoming past addictions was a significant part of his journey to success. Now, through this song, he aims to motivate others to find joy in their work so that every day feels like a vacation. This uplifting message, combined with the song’s catchy rhythm, has resonated widely, making “Vacation” a standout track and a fan favorite.

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